Davidson Laboratory's research includes the work of seven additional units that conduct basic and applied research, often integrated into the Laboratory’s educational activities.

  • Marine Hydrodynamics
  • Marine Observation and Prediction Laboratory
  • Coastal Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL)
  • Maritime Systems Group
  • Instrumentation and Design Group
  • Marine Operations Group
  • Information Systems Group

Marine Hydrodynamics

Marine Hydrodynamic studies in both physical modeling and computer simulation of marine craft designs (ranging from high-speed planing boats to submarines) have contributed to the Laboratory’s international reputation. (For more information on the history of the Davidson Laboratory, download this PDF.)

The Laboratory's primary research facilities include a unique high-speed towing tank with a length of 320 feet, width of 16 feet, and a variable water depth of up to 8 feet. A monorail-supported, cable-driven carriage is capable of speeds up to 100 feet per second. The tank also contains a programmable wave maker capable of generating monochromatic and random wave fields, as well as several types of wave spectra. Shallow water conditions can be simulated in the tank with the installation of an adjustable slope false bottom. The tank’s improved instrumentation, glass walls for viewing and photography, and public access improvements further enhance the Laboratory’s contributions to fundamental and applied research in ship design, hydrodynamics and ocean engineering.

In addition to the experimental facilities, research addressing engineering problems involving complex flow phenomena is conducted using computational fluid dynamics. The laboratory’s simulation software suite is made up of a combination of commercial and in-house modeling codes, several mesh generation tools, and advanced flow visualization tools. Past and on-going projects encompassing numerical simulation-based research include analysis related to supercavitation, vortex induced vibrations, extreme wave loads on off-shore structures, hydrodynamic and hydroacoustic signatures of submerged bodies and wake hydrodynamics, and aero-hydromechanics of high performance racing yachts. The later activities involved design analysis support for the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race teams and boat designers.

Contact: Dr. Raju Datla ([email protected])

Marine Observation and Prediction Laboratory

The Marine Observation and Prediction Laboratory addresses the many challenges facing estuarine and coastal communities including natural and man-made hazards by improving our ability to detect, understand, predict, and respond to changes to the marine environment. Knowledge of the existing conditions within New York Harbor and the coastal waters of New York and New Jersey are obtained via a network of real-time harbor sensors. This system, designed and operated by CMS researchers, is part of the national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and provides continuous observations regarding ocean and weather conditions throughout the region. The network provides a test-bed for emerging ocean observation platforms, including CTD, water level, and atmospheric sensors, wave gauges, CODAR surface radar, and model driven UUV sensors. Robust dynamic data sampling techniques such as autonomous model controlled event detection and power/data transfer optimization schemes are continuously pursued.

Modeling systems for estuarine and coastal ocean nowcasts and forecasts are being constantly refined to provide the most accurate realizations possible of the marine environment. The enhancement of model accuracy is being addressed through the assimilation of observations provided in real time to the hydrodynamic model. A Newtonian relaxation scheme (nudging), incorporating spatially variable correlation scales, is being tested for tidal and estuarine settings and considers water level, salinity and temperature observations as well as CODAR based surface currents. The utility of Local Ensemble Transform Kalman Filtering (LETKF) is also being assessed. The basis of the modeling systems is the Princeton Ocean Model (POM) and its shallow water derivative model, ECOMSED (Estuarine and Coastal Ocean Model with Sediment Transport). It is the modeling engine for the Laboratory’s New York Harbor Observing and Prediction System and the NJ Coastal Observation and Prediction System (NYHOPS+NJCOPS). The system is a real-time observation and forecasting system that provides continuous information regarding both present and 48 hour forecasted ocean and weather conditions.

Contact: Dr. Thomas O. Herrington ([email protected])

Coastal Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL)

CERL conducts transformational research and develops new knowledge, models, and tools for the improvement of the effectiveness of coastal hazard mitigation and enhancement of coastal community resilience. The creation and evaluation of innovative coastal protection technologies is conducted through physical modeling studies in the Davidson Laboratory and in-situ field investigations supported by the Marine Operations Group. This research is supplemented by real-time observations and numerical simulations and forecasts provided by the Marine Observation and Prediction Laboratory, in order to enable a more robust understanding of present and future conditions within the coastal zone for coastal hazard analysis, forecasting and response. High-resolution coastal topography and advanced visualization techniques are applied for the investigation and forecasting of coastal inundation impacts, shoreline change analysis, surf zone circulation studies and coastal protection levels.

Recognized as an international leader in shoreline stabilization techniques, the CERL houses the New Jersey Coastal Protection Technical Assistance Service (CPTAS), a unique resource created to both inform and counsel New Jersey citizens and government officials regarding coastal protection technology, and the Stevens-NOAA New Jersey Sea Grant Cooperative Extension in Coastal Processes, formed to improve the public’s literacy in coastal issues through outreach and education. Both services draw upon the experience and expertise of researchers at the CERL to develop effective coastal hazard mitigation techniques, and education and outreach methods to ensure informed decisions are made by coastal residents, public officials and coastal interest groups for the mitigation of coastal hazards and improvement of coastal community resilience.

Contact: Dr. Jon Miller ([email protected]) and Dr. Thomas O. Herrington ([email protected])

Maritime Systems Group

The Maritime Systems Group is organized to perform innovative research and complex operational studies and provide educational opportunities that will aid government and industry, particularly maritime practitioners, in the diverse and complicated environment of the global Maritime Transportation System (MTS). This group is composed of a highly qualified body of navigation and port engineers, system engineers, modelers, economists, maritime security experts and environmental specialists. The team tackles both high-level conceptual problems faced by the MTS and the individual concerns of smaller ports and terminal operators.

The 2008-2009 global economic recession and a recent string of major natural disasters (including the Japanese tsunami of 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012) have had major implications for the MTS. The MTS finds itself with fewer freight operators, as a result of business failures and mergers/acquisitions, and a renewed demand for larger vessels by those carriers that remain. Carriers seek to take advantage of economies of scale and are willing to pay for larger vessels when they project future increases in oceangoing trade volumes. This increase in ship size has resulted in demands for deeper channels, more cranes, bigger yards and enhanced intermodal connections. This recent requirement for expanded capacity is evident in the construction of new mega-infrastructure needed to handle larger vessels.

Contact: Dr. Thomas H. Wakeman III ([email protected])

Instrumentation and Design Group

The Instrumentation and Design Group supports research activities in developing necessary mechanical and electronics equipment. Our mechanical shop provides support in equipment fabrication and tow-tank model setup, as well as maintenance and repair facilities for all equipment used in Davidson laboratory and field studies. The electronics shop provides complete instrumentation support for the full spectrum of the Lab's experimental studies, plus support for video and still photography systems including high speed underwater photographic systems designed for towing tank studies. This group also supplies and maintains specialized equipment needed to support research activities via an on-site machine shop with full design and manufacturing capabilities.

Marine Operations Group

The Marine Operations Group provides support through the use of the laboratory’s two research vessels, the RV Phoenix and the RV Savitsky. The RV Phoenix is a 25-foot outboard, while the RV Savitsky, our newest acquisition, is a 40-foot inboard diesel. Both vessels are equipped with modern electronics for both navigation and surveying as well as with electric side winches. The RV Savitsky is additionally outfitted with a 1,500-pound-capacity hydraulic A-frame winch. The Davidson Laboratory is also equipped with a full suite of modern instrumentation to measure currents, both locally and remotely, turbidity and suspended particle distribution, as well as salinity, temperature and depth.

Information Systems Group

The Information Systems Group provides support and data storage for both real-world data acquisition and model forecasting, as well as for the generation of high-resolution model and real-time data images utilized in visualizations. The computational environment comprises more than two dozen computers running on Red Hat & Fedora Linux Operating Systems, ranging from single to 8-core systems. Access is available to supercomputing facilities at Department of Defense HPC centers. Data storage is provided by a series of MySQL relational database servers with a combined storage capability of more than 20 Terabytes of redundant storage. Data security is provided by 6 terabytes of external fire- and water-protected storage. We provide continuous access to real-time hydrological and meteorological data and 48-hour forecasts, and our websites are utilized by a wide range of private and public sector users.